“The adoption of IFRS is expected to result in better quality of financial reporting due to consistent application of accounting principles and improvements in reliability of financial statements. This in turn, will lead to increased trust and reliance placed by investors, analysts & other stakeholders in a company’s financial statements. However, the perceived benefits from IFRS adoption are based on experience of IFRS compliant countries in a period of mild economic conditions. The current decline in market confidence in India and overseas coupled with tougher economic conditions may present significant challenges to Indian Companies.” I said concluding my presentation on impacts of IFRS implementation organized by western region counsel of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India in front of my entire professional colleagues lobby at Shri Bhaikaka Hall in Ville Parle.
“Very nice presentation Mr. Dwij Jani.” Mr. Daxay Buch, an experienced Chartered Accountant said to me as I was getting prepared to leave the place.
“Thanks Mr. Buch.” I said putting my laptop back in the bag.
“Come on let’s have a cup of tea downstairs with others.” He very softly invited me to join the bunch of Chartered Accountants who were more interested in what was there in snacks than in my presentation.
“Some other day Mr. Buch, I am in a bit of hurry today.” I tried to avoid him.
“It won’t take much of your time.”
“Actually it’s my wedding anniversary today, my wife must be waiting. Sorry, I’ll surely have one some other day.” I said picking up my laptop bag to leave.
“Ohh…then it’s ok. Have a great time.” He said as I left the hall in hurry.
I & Shruti married three years back, it was an arrange marriage. Like every arrange marriage, our married life started with a silence but it got extended a bit. We shared very indistinguishable personalities; both of us speak very less, most of the time we didn’t even recognize presence of eachother. Mostly our conversations are limited to what you wanna have in dinner tonight and do you want me to bring something, I am moving out. Other than that I am always busy with my work & laptop and she tries and passes her time with those typical daily soaps on television. We are living our lives like a machine, which would be turned on as the day starts & switched off as it ends and the big thing is we are not even bored of it or at least pretending that we are not bored. As I reached home, she was ready.
“Need to get fresh; I’ll take just a minute. Where is my towel?” I asked putting my laptop bag & other stuff on the desk.
“It’s there in your cupboard only.”
First we went to Siddhi Vinayak Temple, to take the blessings of the Lord Ganesha to keep us away from all the troubles, from there we went to movie followed by nice dinner at Woodside In, a famous restaurant situated at Colaba; it was the identical wedding anniversary celebration since last three years.
“Dwij, can we talk for a while.” Shruti said as I opened my Laptop bag to take out the laptop as soon as we reached home.
“Hmmm..!!” I kept my concentration on the laptop as I turned it on.
“Check this out, it arrived today afternoon.” She said handing over a torn envelope to me.
It was a white envelope with “B.J. Institute of Business Management, Ahmedabad” written on it with attractive blue colored fonts. It contained a letter which went like:
“Dear Dwij Jani,
B.J. Institute of Business Management was such a memorable stage of our lives. It was where we found true friends, drooled eyes over our first crush, found our first love, terror our faculties and what not. It is that great institute completing fifty years of creating brilliant managerial professionals this year. For the celebration of golden jubilee year, we have organized a reunion of our past students on the foundation day of our institute, i.e. 15th August. Won’t it be nice to reminisce those days of our life? We would like to invite you with your family to join us as we reminisce those good days and once again be part of each other’s lives. The function is of three days, all the accommodation and other arrangements will be done at the BJIBM only. Please do inform about the details of your arrival at least a fortnight ago so as to enable us to arrange all the facilities for you and your family.
Thank you and hope to see you on our grand reunion. God Bless!
BJIBM Alumni Association.
“Trash it, it’s useless.” I said getting a bit uneasy.
“Is it really useless?” She asked.
“Yes, I am not interested in going there; I have a lot of work to do. I don’t have spare time for these useless things called reunion and all that.” I was trying to steal the eye contact from her. “But, I am. I am interested in visiting the place where you studied, wanna know with whom you studied. I want to know who actually you were.”
“I told you at the initial point of time only…”
“Yes yes I Know, I should not ask you anything about your past. It was the deal” She said cutting me in between.
“So till date I haven’t asked you even a single question about it but it’s a high time now. Just look at you, you are just living a mechanical life. Your work, your colleagues and your laptop have become your world.”
“So, now you have problem with my life?”
“No but you have it for sure.”
“C’mon Shruti, what the hell is wrong with you? We are living a happy life, aren’t we?” I told in high pitch so as to sound convincing.
“Is this what you call happiness? Ask yourself you will get the answer.”
“I don’t know what the problem with you is.” I was getting more and more hyper with each question of her.
“To recall faded events, is a fruitless struggle; remember that. I have cut the roots of my past since last ten years.” I said after taking a pause.
“And you have lost a lot for that. You are trying to run away from your memories but let me tell you one thing we are the creatures of memory. By only looking back we can connect to now.”
“Really, is it so?” I said in sarcasm.
“Go dammmnn, I am your wife and what I want is just a little smile on your face, which I believe is lost somewhere in your past.”
“So being a wife, what I haven’t given you. You have everything one wish and a few things which one might not.”
“I don’t need all those things, what I need is a place in your life, which you haven’t given me so far.”
“I don’t know what you are saying.”
“You don’t know or you don’t wanna know, Dwij. Do it whatever you wanna do. I am the one who is stupid.” She finally dropped her ammunitions and marched out of the bedroom, started the Television on very loud volume so as to curb the volume of thoughts in her mind. I silently moved out of the room at my favorite place to think, terrace. I couldn’t make out whether she didn’t notice me going or she ignored me. The clock showed 11:30 p.m., Mumbai was still running. This was also part of my routine since we moved here, watching Mumbai speeding around from my terrace. Whenever I felt depressed which was almost every day, I will come on the terrace and puff out all the frustration with the puff of cigarette. But, it was different today.
“Am I actually trying to run away from my past even today? I have left it all back ten years ago. I don’t even remember how I was then now?” With that thought I closed my eyes in anticipation to remember how actually I was and to the surprise it was all blank. I wondered how it can happen. It was just because of state of mind I was in or actually all the memories were vanished from my mind with the life of a machine in a mechanical city for last ten years. Only one cigarette was left in the box as I checked it, clock showed 2:30 a.m. Within the span of three hours I puffed out a box but still thoughts were not even taking a time please.
“What is wrong in just going out there, Dwij? It would just be a formal reunion, where all will meet, take lunch and a dinner, ask about what have we done since these many years and will get separated. You should go for Shruti. She deserves at least that much.” I tried to convince myself as I somewhere knew Shruti was correct. In cutting my roots with the past, I somewhere disconnected myself from me. “But what if RAM will be there? How will I face her?” My mind got diverted to the only person from
my past, which was always there in my mind even after ten years, even after I cut all the roots with my past and even when I don’t wanted to think of her. I was cursing myself to start thinking of her but here she was in my thoughts once again and I knew she won’t go for a while. In the nutshell, she was a determined girl at least since I knew her.
I suddenly woke up hearing horn of the local train; it was 5:35 in the morning. First rays of the sun wanted to announce its arrival but they lost their way somewhere behind the emotion less concrete skyscrapers of the city. I went downstairs, open the door with the keys I had and moved in slowly so as not to disturb Shruti. As I entered in I saw Shruti sleeping on the sofa. It seemed she slept here only, she was still in the black saree she wore yesterday, She looked beautiful with her face covered with the hair. I slowly went near her, took the hair of her face. She looked innocent as a child. I could not stop myself from kissing her forehead. She woke up as my lips touched her forehead. We kept on staring each other for five six seconds.
“We are going to Ahmedabad on 14th August.” I said breaking the silence finally as she kept on staring at me.
“Kya dekh rahi ho, never say again that you are not a part of my life.” I said holding her hand with both of my hands.
“Many times I feel that still I don’t know you.” She said with strange looking expressions on her face.
“That’s where the excitement lies.” I said moving towards washroom to grab my toothbrush.
Many times in our lives we end up doing things which we never wanted to at the first. So here we were at Santacruise Domestic Airport. Our flight was scheduled at 9.00 A.M. We were waiting in the lounge for the boarding announcement.
“I have just heard about Ahmedabad but have never been there before. Dad used to go there every now and then for the business purpose.” Shruti was sounding very much excited.
“It used to be my native but even I haven’t been there for last ten years since I left it last.” I said without showing much enthusiasm.
“By the way Dwij, what is the most famous thing in Ahmedabad?” She asked as her eyes got bigger in excitement.
“Amdavadis.” I said with my eyes dancing around the pages of the magazine I was flipping to pass the time around.
“Amdavadis..?? Can you please elaborate?” I heard her enthu voice mixed with the confused emotions as I put the magazine down.
“You will get it once you will be there. Now no more questions please…!” I requested her as a lady with a very artificially sweet voice announced for the boarding of Mumbai-Ahmedabad flight. Actually distance between both the cities is 545 kms but in a flight it just took 45 minutes to cut it. So, finally we were at Ahmadabad, the biggest city of State of Gujarat situated on the banks of River Sabarmati, City of Gandhi Ashram, City of Sidi Saiyad ni Jali, City of probably the most joyous & foodie people of the country, City of Navratri & Uttarayan, City where Life comes live.
“Usmanpura?” I asked a rickshaw wala, he nodded in the affirmity.
On the way from Shahibaug to Usmanpura I realized that Ahmedabad which I left ten years ago was just a City but now it was a Mega City. Old dignified Red AMTS buses were replaced by hi-tech buses, smoke vomiting black rickshaw were replaced by shiny yellow and green CNG ones. In our times even owning a Maruti-800 was a status symbol, now I was seeing Audis n Mercs on the roads which have almost no Khaddas. In our time we never realized, ki khadde me road hai ki road me khadda. But the biggest improvement was at Infrastructural sector, high rise buildings, underpasses, flyovers, etc. They were not new to me but Ahmedabad; I was certainly founding it new. So in a nutshell I was just wondering am I in the same Ahmedabad I used to live.
“These days are not those days, we aren’t those people and this city isn’t that one. Both Dwij Jani and Ahmadabad have changed and I wonder which of the two is more unrecognizable? I guess both.”
“35 rupees bhaiya..!!” rough voice of our rickhawvala put the comma at my thoughts as we stopped at Usmanpura cross roads. We had to take a few steps to reach at our place from there.
“Dwij, is it you?” Our old neighbor Anita aunty, a typical Gujarati lady who was always interested in what was going on in the neighborhood, recognized me as I reached the door steps of my house.
“Yes aunty and this is my wife Shruti. Shruti this is Anita Aunty our neighbor.” I tried to be nice.
“It’s so long to see you. You are looking a carbon copy of Amar bhai.” One more typical style of Gujarati ladies, they always compare your looks either with your mother or father even when the whole universe is aware of the fact that there is no similarity.
“Hmmmm..” I was unable to find the suitable answer.
“So good to see you. Come for tea.” She invited us
“Thank you aunty but we are here for some work so need to move quickly, came here just to show Shruti our house.” I resisted.
As Anita aunty left, I opened my bag to find the keys of the house, I was wondering how my house will be after such a long time. It was the place who always waited for me with its doors & windows open. It was the place which had some mysterious corners which only I knew. I used them to hide while playing hide-n-seek with my mom. It was the place which meant dead end of the world for me. It was the place where I truly lived my life. First time after I decided to come here I was getting a bit agitated. As I opened the front door, to the surprise I saw dad reading news paper seating on the sofa, mumma was running with a cup in her hand.
“Dwij, dudh pi le…!!”
“Na muuma, cha pivi chhe…!!” I was running in a pink t-shirt & matching shorts.
I was trying to realize what was going on as I felt someone just ran across me towards the kitchen. I moved in the room to see who it was as I heard the very familiar voice from there,
“Mumma, I got 85.67% in the HSC now my Hero Honda Splendor final na…!!” I saw myself running with my HSC mark sheet and hugging the mom tightly.
“Haan..!!” She said wiping her tears before I could notice them.
“Dwij, Where are you, you are not here for sure.” Shruti surprised me from the back as I was standing in the middle of the darkness of the drawing room.
“Yehhhhh, I was in the times before, a few scenes of my earlier days just passed by me.” I said in very maladroit manner.
“It happens…!!” She said putting her arm on my shoulder as I wondered whether it was in support or in sympathy.
“Nice house by the way. In Mumbai tenements are not even affordable in dreams.” She tried to change a topic bit.
“Dreams come to those who sleep, I haven’t slept for years.” I was getting swept away in the emotions.
“Are you alright Dwij?” Shruti asked worriedly as she was used to watching me work like a machine, so she was unable to cop up with these many emotions at a go.
“Yehhh…Come let’s go upstairs, Sabarmati is visible from there and my most favorite spot is also there.” I said clearing my throat.
I closed the front door as we moved to the second floor using the old styled wooden staircase.
“Look here it is Sabarmati and this is the swing where I passed the most time in the house.” I said standing in the middle of the terrace.
“Dwij..!!” I heard Shruti calling me from the room in a very surprised tone.
I went in to the room; saw her standing in front of the photo pasted on the wall. She just kept on staring at the photo ignoring my presence. I just stood there wondering, why she looked at it.
“I can’t believe it Dwij, is it really you?” She said turning towards me.
“Look at you right now and look at what you are in the pic.” She said pointing towards a guy holding a mike in one hand and guitar in another wearing a shiny silver colored jacket, black denim with massy hairs going around with a girl on his right hand side in almost same avatar.
“Time is the best make over artist, it changes you even before one can realize.” I said getting a bit nostalgic looking at the photo.
“And who is the one with you?” She said getting bit normal.
“She is RAM, Rudri Mehta. We were the lead singers of our college band. This pic was taken at the annual festival of the college.”
“I am here just to find this Dwij from somewhere.” She said.
At this point of time realized, why it’s said in some situations silence is the best answer. I silently turned back, opened the cupboard behind. A small cloud of dust came out of it and made me cough. I just used my hands to save my eyes from it. After about ten seconds everything got settled, I saw a diary with the dark brown hard cover page with 1997 written on it. I took it out, cleaned the dust gathered on it for last ten years.
“Take this, all your answers are in it.” I said handing over the diary to the Shruti.
As Shruti started to flip the pages of the diary, I also flipped a few of them in my mind sitting on the swing.
“Om mumma, I am leaving. It’s my first day and I don’t wanna be late.” I said picking up my bag and goggles from the desk in the drawing room.
“Arey wait, have it. It’s Dahi-chini. It brings the good luck. Best of luck beta.” She said forcing the spoon in my mouth as she knew I don’t like the curd.
I was very much excited as I was selected in one of the top b-school of times, B.J. Institute of Business Management, situated on the Highway between Ahmedabad & Gandhinagar. The campus of the institute can be explained in only one word, beautiful. It had the huge metallic gate like the one on the entrance of the ancient forts with the name of Institute written on an arch on it. In the centre of the campus main building, a building in a semi circular shape with no paint but only walls made of naked red colored bricks was situated. The colorless building resembled the lives of the students of the institute. On the left hand side the Computer lab with all the latest gadgets was situated and on the right hand side it was the library & canteen. Quarters for the faculties, hostel and guest rooms were situated on the back side of the campus. The whole campus was flooded with different kind tress, I don’t even know name of the many of their species. On the first day, we had Introductory round where we had to introduce ourselves and the reason why we were at the BJIBM.
I was waiting for my turn to vomit out what I was cramming since last two days.
“Good Afternoon friends, I am Dwij Jani. I have completed my Graduation in commerce from H.L.College of Commerce. I am here because it has always been my dream to head the finance dept. of one of the corporate. My hobbies are cricket and music. I was the lead singer of the band of my college and if I get the chance here, I would love to take part in our institute’s band too.” I said completing my introduction. I was happy that I didn’t even miss a single word from which I prepared. Next to me was a cute girl wearing a weird purple colored top and blue jeans. The best thing about her was her eyes, they were full of oomph. As I took my seat, she started,“Toughest decision in life is to choose between where one should be and where one wants to be. Hi Friends I am Rudri Mehta from Mumbai and surely I am not here coz I want to be. I am here coz my dad wanted me to be here and here I am. By the way Music is my passion and it’s my promise that you will see me doing well in it in the future.” That was the weirdest introduction; one can give in one of the top B-Schools of the country but that was RAM, you have to expect it from her.
Next day I was sitting in the canteen sipping hot coffee enjoying the creeping birds playing around the greenery of the campus when Rudri came and sat next to the table on which I was sitting.
“I think I have seen you somewhere.” I said shifting my table as she gave a disgusted look on that very filmy line.
“What, didn’t liked the pickup line?” I said taking the menu card in the hand.
“Trying to be smart, it was a good effort.” Reply from her came in awkward fashion.
“Hi I am Dwij, friends call me D.J.”
“I am RAM. By the way you said you were the lead singer in your college, tomorrow is the audition for our college band.”
“Good, What will you have for now?” I asked signaling at the menu card.
“Leave.” She said waving her hand in the bye mode.
Next day was the big day for both of us. We tried to give our best; I sang my all time favorite song in the final round, “Sa ni dha pa” by Colonial cousins. I was also impressed with the performance of RAM, she sang the blockbuster hit song, “Ek do teen” from the movie Tezab in the final round. We both were selected for the college band. That year whole band was renovated with the new faces by the Institute after poor shows in the last year inter college music festival. “Bose”-Manoj Bose a fatty bengoli guy was selected as a drummer, “AJ”- Ajay Khurana a dude from Delhi was selected as a lead guitarist and our own “SAM”-Sahil Trivedi was selected as key-board player & he was the guy who also arranged the music for us. I & RAM were selected as the lead singers and name of the band was “TRILOCHAN”. As the name suggested it was the band with lot of power, fervor & passion just like the third eye of Lord Shiva. Every time we landed on the stage, we lit the floor on the fire. On every Saturday & Sunday eve we rehearsed at the peaceful site in between the greenery on the back side of the institute.
“Bose..!” I said looking at him while AJ & Sam stared at me.
“Kya hai…??” He said in disgust adjusting his drum set.
“Do you know, whenever I call you people around me stare at me in anticipation that I am abusing. What kind of name you have.” I said giving a high five to the AJ on our routine to tease Bose.
“Then get yourself f***ed you smartass.” Bose said getting goaded.
“Which smartass if getting banged today?” RAM said entering the performance arena.
“Your partner on mike, Bose has turned Gay.” AJ loved provoking Bose.
“What Bose ladki nahi mili to kuch bhi, and DJ you…eeeeee….” She said giving artificial expressions on her face.
That day after finishing our rehearsal we were sitting at our canteen, playing tabla on the table waiting for the coffee we ordered as MAC-Mayank Kkhurana, son of a affluent business man from the capital city of the country Delhi and the captain of the football team of the Institute entered the canteen. MAC was a dude, a typical football player; his look consisted of a bunch of hair like a nest of sparrow messing around everywhere sometimes he used to tie them using his handkerchief in Islamic style, expensive branded jeans & t-shirts of either Manchester Utd. or Liverpool or sometimes Brazil & Argentina and Ray-ban sun glasses. For some reason he was the girls’ favorite in the institute, don’t know why?
“Hi RAM…!!” He smiled at RAM while we ignored him.
“Hi MAC…!!” She replied.
“Hey wanna come for movie tonight.”
“Hmmmm…. Okey.” She replied.
“Good then, 8:20 sharp at Shiv, Ashram Road. Will catch you there, Cya.” He moved as we all others gave a surprised look to RAM.
“RAM, don’t get into him, he was a Casanova since his school days. I know him since then.” AJ warned RAM.
“I am not getting married to him AJ. Movie with a dude like MAC, not a bad deal yaar.” RAM was a typical bindass Bombay girl.
“But RAM….” I tried to speak as RAM interrupted in between.
“Why you guys are getting jealous?”
“Jealous? We were just concerned for you.” I answered her as AJ, SAM & Bose took their cups of coffee from Abdulchacha.
“Thanks for the concern; can we also have our coffee if you allow DJ ji…” She said getting mordant.
With the days passing around, I noticed she was getting more and more involved with the MAC. Whenever either I or AJ warned her she cut our arguments by saying she is just hanging out with him and not getting married to him. After a while even we stopped advising her on that matter. “Hey DJ Navratri is coming. Let’s plan Garba at our campus. We will rock the stage with garba too.” AJ said as I totally ignored his words glaring at two doves playing on the banyan tree nearby. “DJ, AJ is telling something to you. Where the hell is your attention?” SAM shook me holding my shoulder.
“What the F**k SAM, what are you doing.” I got shocked.
“DJ, is there any problem?” AJ tried to read my eyes.
“Don’t you think guys RAM is getting much involved with that fucking MAC. We all know he is not the right guy.” I just took everything out even without noticing that RAM entered the rehearsal area just at that point of time.
“Sometimes, to keep it together, you have to leave it alone DJ.” AJ replied ignoring the presence of RAM.
RAM looked at both of us as we were aliens at that moment.
“I don’t know what the hell your problem, DJ is?” She looked clueless.
“Problem, the actual problem is……!!” I paused to think.
“Isse dukh raha pet, pakad raha hai sir.” Bose said in his typical Bengoli accent.
“What Bose, didn’t got you?” RAM turned herself towards Bose who got himself busy with his pack of potato chips.
“RAM here, the actual problem is that I love you and I can’t see you get along with that f***ing Casanova MAC. That’s it.” I said everything with an abnormal ease.
“What DJ,you…..I haven’t even thought about it.” She got bit uneasy looking at that abnormal ease on my face.
“Then think about it, right now. Come on.” I continued with the same amount of ease.
“No need to be so hyper, it’s ok. I know you don’t think in the same manner. If I love you that don’t mean you also have to love me back but if you are with the wrong person then I have issue.”
“But who said MAC is a wrong person. I know him yaar and he has promised to me that he has changed now and I really love him DJ.” Finally she also surrendered. “I am sorry.”
“If you think so, I don’t have an issue. But ha if he will ever hurt you, I will kill him, simple.” RAM and even I got scared of the determination my words carried.
“Pagala gaya hai ye pyar me.!!” Finally Bose took his face out of his Chips packet.
After this we never took this topic for a while or I should say RAM tried her best to avoid this topic whenever we met. We got busy preparing for the annual inter college music festival, RAGA n ROCK. We composed a brand new song for that competition. We decided to use it at the most important stage of the competition whenever we found it necessary. We did the fantastic job on the earlier phase of the competition but the luck was running five yards ahead of us. Just before the day of final, I got the fever.
“What is this DJ, I heard you have fever.” RAM came in shouting at my place. I was sleeping in the room upstairs while SAM was sitting there by my side.
“Hey RAM shut up he is sleeping.” SAM whispered but I still wake up listening to voice of RAM.
“Hi RAM.” I wished from the bed only.
“DJ, tomorrow is finale.” She sound worried
“I know but if I will come like this on the stage, I would just let our band down.” I was disappointed.
“Look DJ, tomorrow is finale. We are singing the song we composed for this event and without our lead singer we won’t be on the stage for sure.” SAM said.
“Yehh, SAM is correct DJ. I know you can do it. We will sing that one together.” RAM added.
“Thanks guys but I don’t want that we lose the competition due to me, try n understand.”
“DJ you are singing tomorrow and that’s final.” No room for any more arguments remained as “the Rudri” had given her verdict, final verdict on the issue.
Next day was the big one for all of us, we were on the stage of finale but my voice didn’t support me much with the fever. We got the “Best Original Composition” but lost the Raga n Rock Concert. We were declared as the second runner ups.
“I told you guys, I ill let all down.” I was very very disappointed after the results were declared.
“Wasn’t that important we all performed together, Trilochan is we five guys, without even anyone of us it’s incomplete, are you getting it DJ.” RAM got bit emotional.
“Yes and we have best original composition in our bag. So it calls for party.” Bose was always enthu for the parties.
“Hmm.. I ill have one paracetamol with the glass of Orange juice, cheers.” I added.
“DJ, why don’t you find a good girl friend?” RAM told me later that evening sitting at the swing on the terrace at my place.
“I wanna but the one I like is already committed.” I said with the blink of an eye.
“DJ..?? I am serious.”
“Me too. I really like you and the fact that you like someone else doesn’t stop my feelings for you. ” I said making an intense eye contact.
“Even after becoming mother of two children, you will be the same RAM for me. The same RAM, whom I liked and I will that’s it.” I continued maintaining the eye contact.
“Move on DJ.” She took the eyes of mine. I thought she felt uncomfortable with the comfort in my eyes.
“I would have been happy if that would be as simpler as you are saying.”
And there was deep hush on the terrace. Twittering of the birds returning to their nests with the food for their kids made me realize it was already evening. Nice waft was flowing across the river Sabarmati. The evening sky looked stunning as orange colored horizon got clubbed with mattress of milky white clouds. It was looking like an imagination of a luminous painter or an ingenious poet. I was still trying to move on with the moving swing but I was somewhere lost in the past. After a while I went in to check what Shruti was doing? As I went in, our eyes met. We kept on staring at each other for a while, don’t know why? I believe she was trying to find out what more things were hidden in me while I did coz I wanted to know her reactions after reading all these. As against all my expectations she just stood up and gave me a tight hug before I could apprehend anything. Within a while I just surrendered totally into her arms till I felt my shirt a bit wet.
“Its 7:30 already, I think we should move to your campus now.” She said wiping her wet eye corners in anticipation of hiding it from me as I just kept on staring at her. “What?” She asked with an artificial smile on her face.
“Thank you.” I could only come out with these words with the choked throat and with them I once again tightly hugged her.
“So can we move now, DJ..??” finally there was some smile in Shruti’s voice.
As it was already evening, we decided to move to the campus. Throughout the way towards the campus I just kept on wandering how almost a deserted highway on which I was going to study was transformed into a commercial hub or the heart of the city called S.G. Highway. Finally I saw something familiar in the totally unfamiliar territory, the old huge metallic gate with the name of
Institute written on an arch on it. Main building of the institute still resembled the same vibes as it did ten years ago.
“A few things never change even when everything around it changes radically.” I thought as we reached the registration desk.
“Mr. & Mrs. Dwij Jani.” I said to the beautiful girl adjusting her specs over her sparkling brown colored eyes at the desk.
“Welcome sir.” She said after a while checking the list of the guests, I don’t know why her voice reminded me of RAM.
“Do you sing?” I just made the fishing inquiry.
“Yes sir, how come you know?” She sounded flabbergasted.
“It was just a supposition; you have a very nice voice.” I said as a guy wearing nice maroon colored TShirt and blue colored Jeans entered registration area along with the cutest girl one might see.
“Is it you Dj?” He said with lots of excitement in his voice which he couldn’t hide.
“Yes it’s me, AJ.”
“You are totally changed man, I couldn’t even recognize you at first instance. I hadn’t expected you over here. You have not given up your habit of surprising.” He said hugging me tightly.
“I love surprising people around, sometimes even myself.” I said feeling his hug.
A Bunch of people were gathered in the hall inside as both I & AJ went in. Everyone was almost busy playing the ‘do you remember me’ game. I felt, Shruti’s eyes were searching for something, she was anticipating something with an uneasy mind.
“Looking for Rudri?” I made a guess
“Haannn…!!” She was surprised as I correctly guessed what she was anticipating.
“Hope she doesn’t come.” I said taking a deep breath.
“I hope she does. There are lots of misunderstandings which can be removed only if she comes here….”
“O my god..!! Look at this, who is here. The Rockstar, DJ.” A Heavy voice interrupted her as we both turned towards a guy in the formals on the small stage in the hall playing the key board.
“This can only be SAM.” I said looking at the AJ; “Even today he might be loving his key-board more than his wife.” I was sensing the transformation in me from being Dwij to DJ in last half an hour or so.
“C’mon DJ, this stage and we all are waiting since a while for you.” SAM invited me as my batch mates welcome me with the round of applause.
“Sorry SAM, don’t you know I have stopped singing since …………” I just left the hall without completing my sentence as everyone present over there knew the untold portion of it. All of sudden I found Dwij pushing the DJ away from me.
Later that night I was just staring at the ceiling of the room as my upper eyelash was stubborn enough not to kiss the lower one. After a while I gave up the efforts and came out at the campus. It was around two in the night. Everybody was in the deep sleep due to tiresome journeys. The campus was at its silent best. The only voice one can hear was of the shrill hum of the crickets. Just passing by my legs got frozen at the area near the centre stage of the institute. I just kept on staring at the stage for no reason what so ever for a while.
“Dwij?” I heard my name clearly in the absolute silence as my heart missed a beat. I just not wanted to turn around to see who it was as I knew it.
“Dwij, I know it is you. There is only one person on this planet earth who can keep on staring at this stage with such a passion.”
I turned around with my heart beating at its fastest rate. As I turned back, first look of RAM totally amazed me. She looked totally different then what I was used too. What I saw was, a lady wearing nice black and green colored traditional saree with neatly tied hair. Nice matching green colored small round bindi at her forehead added to the beauty of her look. The only thing that resembled to the RAM I knew was her eyes, they were still the same with full of vigor and sparkles. Both of us just kept on staring at each other for a few moments.
“You have changed Dwij, a lot.” Finally she broke the silence.
“Yes, many things have changed including time. DJ of a time has grown to become Dwij now, Rudri.” I spoke taking pauses in between.
“Hmmm..What have you been doing now a day?” She asked.
“After leaving this city I completed my Chartered Accountancy course in Mumbai. Currently I am living my dream; I am heading a Finance Department in a well known corporate.” I acted as if I had forgotten and she also didn’t look like reminding me.
“Same pinch, I am also living my dream. I am running a music school named ‘Trilochan Music School’ in Ahmedabad itself.”
With these words once again the night dragged itself into the silence. We just kept on staring at each other in anticipation to find out who was actually better at lying.
“Hey DJ, congo man; just heard you are also in the race for the student of the year.” RAM said entering the cafeteria.
“Thanx, MAC is also in the race.” I said even without looking at her.
“Yehh.. He has captained the champion team this year.” She said with some pride in her voice.
“So what, even DJ has won two singer of the year awards and we were second runner ups at RAGA n ROCK.” I felt good as SAM came across with the arguments in my support.
“I will be happy if any of them wins it. DJ is also my best friend. I will be happy for him.” She tried to soothe but didn’t sound persuasive.
There was annual day celebration of the institute after a week where they were gonna declare the student of the year award. I was confident to win it after toping my division as a student and even doing well as a singer during the year. But, I wasn’t the son of a business man who donated a large amount to the institute but someone else was. MAC won the student of the year award for captaining the team to the championship.
“Hey guys, lets party tonight. Its annual day, we will be seeing each other after two to three months now.” Bose said as we gathered at the back yard.
“Hmmm…” I said.
“Vodka will be best.” AJ suggested.
“Abey pagal hai, This is not Delhi, its Gujarat. It’s prohibited over here.” I said without showing much excitement.
“People drink more liquor than milk over here and this person is telling us, this is Gujarat.” Bose said in sarcasm.
“So you have problem with what, Milk or Liquor?” I said giving a mild slap at Bose’s forehead.
That night we had blast. We were drunk at our highest when RAM came at the party place. Bose was the one who invited her.
“Hey, AJ what do you think, MAC won the student of the year award due to his captaincy or quantum of donation his dad made this year.” I was prattling in the alcoholic state of mind without noticing RAM’s presence.
He just kept on staring at me with plead in his eyes to stop as RAM was present there but I was feeling like a free bird, vodka had given me wings to fly in the world of my own.
“I was the one who topped the division A, I was the one who won two Singer of the year Awards, I was the one who ended being second runner up at RAGA n ROCK and student of the year, MAC. Bahut Nainsafi hai…!” Finally I looked at the RAM who was fuming at me.
“I am still wondering what is the problem with DJ is?” RAM sounded clueless.
“He is drunk.” SAM said.
“No he is jealous. He is not happy to see MAC getting student of the year award. He is not happy to see us together. That’s what the problem is.”
“Why don’t you talk to me, RAM?” I said patting her shoulder.
“Okay Mr. Dwij, so can you please tell me what your problem is?”
“My problem is that MAC, I am still telling you he is not the right person for you.” I shifted the topic from Student of the year to the RAM without even realizing.
“Why don’t you let me decide who is right and who is not? Who the hell are you to decide it for me?” RAM finally got irritated.
“You listen DJ, you are just jealous of him coz he had Student of the year award and coz I am with him and not you and that is the naked fact.”
“What are you saying RAM, I am jealous for you?” I felt like awaking from the sleep as those comments of RAM dragged me back somewhat from the alcoholic state of mind.
“Yes Dwij and It will be better for us that we keep the safe distance from now on.” RAM said stealing eye contact from me.
“I will still like you RAM.” I just left the place saying these words.
As I was walking through the campus the haunting silence in the campus was accompanying me. Still the words of RAM were rumbling deep in my mind as I heard the sound of cuddling from the nearby area, I went in the direction as the voice was familiar to me. I was shocked at what I saw, MAC was sitting there with a girl and they were enjoying the last day of the first year in the campus. I totally lost my temper looking at that.
“MAC…..!!” I just managed a shout.
“What, get lost you bastard singer.” I felt He was also in some intoxicated state of mind.
“RAM trusts you like anything and this is what you are doing behind her back.”
“That’s between me and her, you get lost from here or else I ill bang your head to the earth. Get lost before I lose my temper.” He said holding collar of my Jacket.
“DJ please go right now, he is under the impression of cocaine. He might do anything. Please go.” The girl with him pleaded to me as I also held his collar in reply.
“What, He is a drug addict?” With this I just looked at the girl who was standing at the back of the MAC. I just kept on glaring at that girl for a while until MAC gave me a vigorous blow in my stomach. I was on the floor, grousing in the pain. I just stood up and replied him with the even forceful blow on his face. This just resulted into a slaughter, we were growling like tigers but no one was present to listen to our growling except one girl who was actually shivering in the threat. During all this, he just took out the small revolver he carried in his pocket and pointed the same at my forehead.
“You are gone today. You don’t know, with whom you have tussled.” He shouted as I didn’t know at that point of time what to do. A guy was standing with a gun pointing at my head. I just closed my eyes anticipating a bullet shot at a speed of around a few hundred feet per second to disorder a piece of my brain.
“Have you gone crazy MAC, you can’t do this.” The girl silent till this moment shouted. As MAC turned towards the girl, I thought this is my chance. I just gave a punch on his face and tried to snatch the gun from him. Luckily I got the gun but I didn’t knew he carried a knife too. Immediately he took the knife out of his pocket and had a go at me. I was lucky as he missed his shot and without even a second thought my first fingure triggered the gun I snatched from him. Bullet shot echoed twice or thrice on the silence winter night and MAC was on the floor in the little pond of blood. It took a few moments for me to realize what I did, I shot MAC dead. I straight away hurried to the main office to call the ambulance & police but all the efforts went in vain as he died immediately once he was shot point-blank. I immediately surrendered myself to the police explaining what actually happened and the girl who was with the MAC also gave her deposition which helped in proving it in the court that it was just the accident and I shot him for protecting myself. But still court held me liable for the imprisonment of six months as even coz of accident but I killed a person.
“I know it wasn’t an accident.” RAM came to me as I came off the court room after the verdict on the case.
“It was RAM.” I said looking down as I didn’t had enough strength to make eye contact with her at that moment.
“You might have proven it to the court but you can’t against me. I know it was murder and with that you also have murdered my life Mr. Dwij Jani, remember that.” She just left the place with these words.
I was left with those words of RAM for next six months in the Sabarmati Central Jail, Ahmedabad. Where almost every night turned out to be sleepless due to RAM’s face who was saying only one thing, “You ruined my Life, Mr. Dwij Jani, you ruined my life.”
Night was still running in the silence, crickets were still busy playing their sharp music; it just began to drizzle a bit. The aroma of sand was soothing the atmosphere while I was still sitting on the centre stage roving in the past. I just felt a little movement at the back of me.
“It was an accident RAM, believe me. Why would I ruin life of someone whom I considered as my life? “I said even without looking back. The only reply came from the other side was the silence. I waited for a second, another, another and even another second passed still no reply came.
“It was just an accident, why don’t you believe me?” I shouted with the loudest volume I can, taking all the frustration of these ten years out just in a one go.
I felt one hand on my shoulder; I turned back and surprised to see Shruti over there.
“Go and tell her. She deserves to know the truth.” She said as I switched to the normal mode (thinking mode)
“Why to think twice, when we live only once. Go Dwij, this is your last chance to tell her, convince her.” She had something in her voice which convinced me to talk to Rudri and clarify everything.
“Can you please tell me the room no. where Rudri Mehta has stayed?” I asked to the beautiful girl with the sparkling brown colored eyes at the registration desk next morning.
“Room no.142 sir.” She replied very sweetly.
I sprinted to the hostel area of the campus, to tell her everything. As I reached at her room, the only thing to welcome me was a nice old rust iron lock. I just went back to my room with a heavy heart. To my surprise, RAM was already there at my room.
“Where were you, She has been waiting for you since a while.” Shruti said as I entered the room with unforeseen expressions on my face.
“Rudri… RAM it was just………………..” I was either running out of words or breath but was not able to make out was running out of actually what.
“I know it was just an accident and I also came to know later on that he was not the right guy, he was also involved in some wrong doings.” She said with a dull voice as I just kept on staring at her. “I am sorry.. DJ..” and with these words she burst into tears.
“It’s ok RAM, it’s all ok. I am happy that you got to know what was right.” I said holding her hand. A few moments passed as I kept on holding her hand for a while. She just looked at me and hugged me tightly.
“Finally I have got my best friend & my singing partner back.” She said wiping the tears of her face. “By the way she is my wife, Shruti.” I said pointing towards Shruti who was also wiping tear drops of her eyes.
“I have already met her; we are chatting here since last half an hour.” The original RAM of ten years back replied from the Rudri sitting beside me.
Later that evening there was a gala dinner at the main hall of the institute. We all were enjoying the nice ambiance with the old friends, nice dinner and current institute band singing nice songs from the stage.
“Hello friends, good evening.” I said taking the mike from the singer on the stage as everybody looked with amaze towards the stage.
“I told you yesterday that I have stopped singing but there is no harm in starting it again. I wanna dedicate this song to ‘TRILOCHAN’ that is BOSE, AJ, SAM and my own darling, RAM.” I said looking at the Shruti who was standing first amongst the mass of guests. I felt she smiled.